The Curmudgeon


Monday, July 31, 2006

Commentary on Joshua

And the LORD said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city. And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire.

She insisted the UK had "repeatedly urged on the Israelis to act proportionately".

And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers. And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai.

"There's not a single person in the cabinet who is not desperately anxious about the situation, isn't really worried and concerned and wanting to do everything we can to bring it to an end, and agonising over whether we are in fact doing everything we can and how can we do more."

And the other issued out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape.

Mr Straw's statement said: "Disproportionate action only escalates an already dangerous situation." He said Israel had the right to defend itself "proportionately", and expressed sympathy for their victims of the conflict.

And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua. And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword.

"There was a perfectly good discussion at the cabinet actually and it certainly wasn't a divisive discussion at all. Of course what they were saying is 'let us make sure with urgency we can stop a situation that's killing innocent people'."

And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai. For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.

"What happened ... shows this situation simply cannot continue," he said last night. "This is an absolutely tragic situation, but we have got to make sure the discussions we are having and the negotiations we are conducting does lead to a genuine cessation of hostilities."

Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the LORD which he commanded Joshua. And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day.

Mr Blair has been under mounting internal criticism for refusing to endorse calls for an immediate unconditional ceasefire or to condemn the Israeli bombing as disproportionate.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Won't Someone Please Secure the Children?

Britain's place at the heart of the European Union seems more secure by the day, as the twenty-four lesser states turn increasingly towards the methods of freedomisation which have been developed here on the mainland. Without recourse to peoples or parliaments, and the tiresome complications they present, representatives of all member states have been drawing up laws which will require fingerprinting of children by June 2009. "The use of fingerprints and other biometric data," says the Observer, with its usual healthy scepticism towards the motives of the powerful, "is designed to prevent passport fraud and allow European member states to meet US entry visa requirements"; nevertheless, it appears that there are some for whom the privilege of travelling unhindered to the Land of the Free does not entirely outweigh the costs to individual privacy. Just because Britain has been collecting the fingerprints of "five-year-old asylum seekers" without "significant problems" for the past few months, that hardly seems an adequate excuse for the European Union to treat British children the way Britain treats refugees.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

News 2020

Hotel bombing "probably a terrorist act"

Startling new information has come to light on one of the least notorious acts of terrorism of the twentieth century, according to an Israeli historian.

The bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 22 July 1946, which killed 28 Britons, 17 Jews and 46 persons of lesser significance, has traditionally been attributed to Irgun, a Jewish organisation dedicated to militant anti-holocaustism.

However, new revelations revealed by historian Yeshua Kanaanyahu reveal that the bombing may not have been an act of freedom-fighting at all.

"My researches indicate that the bombing was probably a terrorist act, very likely by Hizbullah in an effort to discredit the then future Israeli prime minister, Menachem Begin," Mr Kanaanyahu said.

Hizbullah is a militant Muslim organisation which is believed to have received funding from Arab states. The bombers at the King David Hotel were dressed as Arabs.

The British Minister of Tolerance, Multiculturalism and Interracial Huggery, Phillip Melanistan, welcomed the revelations, saying that the new information "explained much that was mysterious" about the terroristic act of terror.

"One of the most controversial aspects of the bombing was the so-called failure of the British authorities to evacuate the hotel despite the alleged fact that a warning had supposedly been given," he said.

"It now seems obvious, that, as is traditional in cases of terrorism by radical Islamofascist terrorist organisations, there may have been issues of faulty intelligence around the warning, or even no warning at all."

Britain's special relationship with the United States had also been in its infancy in 1946, resulting in possible confusion among the British intelligence services due to lack of guidance from the Pentagon, Mr Melanistan said.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Framework Clarification, Issual Underlyingness

George W Bush's third favourite doggie, after Barney and Olmert bar Sharon, has been for a bit of a frolic round the master's ankles. Bush informed a press conference that he and Tony had agreed that there is some necessity for a "clear framework for cessation of hostilities on an urgent basis", rather than an immediate one, always provided it doesn't put the Israeli government to any inconvenience. Tony agreed with him, saying that steps were being taken to bring about the "cessation of hostilities we all want to see", namely the one that will best suit Washington, Whitehall and Olmert bar Sharon. Tony feels "deeply for people in Lebanon and people in Israel who are the innocent casualties of this conflict", of course he does. Tony would like the conflict to "stop now", and the peace plan, which is actually a far superior peace plan to the one Condoleezza Rice torpedoed in Rome, will practically help the conflict to stop now just as soon as the underlying issues have been resolved. The underlying issues could be resolved as early as next week; at least, those underlying issues that matter to Washington, Whitehall and Olmert bar Sharon. Bush wants a meeting of the UN security council on Monday, so that the organisation can once more prove its relevance by doing as it is told. Tony agrees with him. Bush wants an international "stability force", perhaps even a coalition of the willing, to be introduced into the area. This is because "the US is committed to using all of its influence to seize the moment to build a stable and democratic Middle East". However, Hizbullah, who are very nasty people indeed, are thought to have up to fifteen thousand rockets, against which the world's sole military superpower finds itself helpless, even when backed by its third favourite doggie: the peace plan will work only "if Hizbullah are prepared to allow it to work".

Thursday, July 27, 2006

That Special Feeling

The Secretary for the Rest of the World, Margaret Beckett, took full advantage of the Lebanon crisis today in order to display to the world in no uncertain terms her ability to match her predecessor, Jack Straw, in terms of embodying the United Kingdom's abject self-abasement before the seductive brilliance of the Bush administration. At the peace conference in Rome, the US and its little helper scuppered the possibility of a united call for an immediate ceasefire, thus heroically preventing thirteen lesser nations and the UN secretary general from perverting the will of the international community. "We have to have a plan that will actually create conditions in which we can have a ceasefire that will be sustainable," Condoleezza Rice argued, on the time-honoured principle that wars should never be stopped while there is still something to negotiate about. "Even if you could get a ceasefire half an hour ago, you would probably be back in hostilities in a few days," Beckett added. Better no ceasefire at all than a temporary one.

Still, even this most special of special relationships does have its tiffs. Beckett broke off her dry-hump of Rice's shinbone long enough to be "not happy" that Prestwick airport in Scotland had been used as a stopover for aircraft ferrying laser-guided bombs (possibly the type that can precision-pinkmist a Hizbullah fighter from practically inside Israel's legal borders as long as it doesn't accidentally land on a civilian or a UN official along the way) from America to the Righteous State. Beckett has even threatened a "formal protest", and has "already let the United States know that this is an issue that appears to be seriously at fault". The issue, as one might expect, is purely bureaucratic: "Procedures for handling hazardous cargoes did not appear to have been followed, she said."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Minor Embarrassment

The Righteous State has struck a righteous blow against the enemies of a final solution to the Palestinian problem. According to an unidentified United Nations officer, Israel dropped nine bombs close to a UN base over a period of six hours. Following each explosion, the UN observers telephoned their Israeli military contact, who assured them that the bombing would stop. Eventually there was a direct hit which killed four people and, sure enough, the bombing stopped.

Kofi Annan yesterday said that the air strikes were "apparently targeted"; but today, like the good little secretary general he is, has accepted the apology of Olmert bar Sharon, who says the attacks were a mistake. Presumably the explosions which occurred so regrettably close to the base resulted from attempts by the Righteous Bombers to miss it more accurately.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Keeping an Eye on Johnny Foreigner

A couple of weeks ago, the Government's imaginative brilliance and administrative efficiency were admirably showcased in a leaked series of emails by civil servants. "This has all the inauspicious signs of a project continuing to be driven by an arbitrary end date, rather than reality," one of them noted. He was referring, of course, to New Labour's Surveillance Makes You Free project, the biometric identity cards and assorted national databases which will serve to make the future as clean, fragrant and virtuous as the Vicar of Downing Street's very own conscience.

A spokesbeing for the Home Office said at the time that the Government was considering an "early variant" on ID cards, in order to hustle this particular white elephant into everyone's way by the scheduled date of 2008. Meanwhile the Home Secretary, John Reid, has swung into action with both feet forward, and the squelchy echoes of the resulting pratfall may delight our ears for some time to come.

Besides the introduction (along with the usual suspects such as tougher penalties, special envoys and lots more cash) of private thugs for midnight calls on suspected non-deportees and the famous uniforms, Reid's plans for the immigration service include "forcing foreigners from high-risk countries to have biometric identity cards by 2008" and "requiring all non-European nationals to have identity numbers before they can travel to the UK". If it doesn't work for Britain, test it on the animals.

The war on asylum-seeking terrorists who use our health service is a just war and a clean one. Everyone who travels into or out of the country is to be counted all out and counted all back, just like our boys in the Falklands. Identity cards for high-risk foreigners, being absolutely non-susceptible of forgery, fraud or Home Office unfitness-for-purpose, will facilitate this enormously. "We will extend exit controls in stages based on risk, identify who overstays and count everyone in and out, while avoiding delays to travellers, by 2014," Reid intoned. Let's hope the risk is considerate enough to be predictable and easily defined for the next eight years, so that these introductory stages are not unduly complicated. Still, it's a comforting thought that, by 2014, delays to travellers may be thought of as something to avoid.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Fortress Britain plc

We all know what a wonderful job private contractors have made of railways, benefits agencies, water supplies and giving the subject races in Iraq a helping hand; so it should come as no surprise that the Home Secretary, John Reid, has drawn up plans to let them loose on the immigration service - in the "enforcement" department, naturally. The "immigration enforcement budget" (the kick-'em-out kitty, in Oldspeak) is to be doubled over the next three years, as is the number of "enforcement operations".

Although there has been, according to Reid's doubtless unimpeachable claim, "a 72% reduction in the number of people who are seeking asylum in this country", we are still being swamped by alien hordes who think we're a soft touch. Many of the aliens, of course, are from primitive cultures marked by authoritarianism, xenophobia and a predilection for extra-judicial torture; hence, in the third major envelope-scrawl of reforms to be announced this week, Reid also plans to put passport control officers in uniform so that the service "becomes more visible to the public and to act as a deterrent to illegal migrants trying to enter the country". The law and the Daily Mail haven't stopped the bastards, but the uniforms will scare them back into their packing crates as quick and neat as Tony Blair's slick little manifesto sliding up into Rupert Murdoch's oily great bulldog clip.

According to John Denham, the chair of the home affairs select committee, the real problem is "there is no way of ensuring that when somebody is told that they should leave the country, that their departure follows very quickly." The uniforms will certainly help there. Meanwhile, with a devastating lack of insight into the real problem, the Countess of Mar, Deputy Speaker of the House of Donors and vice-president of the association representing members of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal, has resigned her twenty-year membership because of the "incompetence" on display. Still, no doubt the "commissioning, contracting out and outsourcing" of the people-bailiff business, which ministers are even now exploring, will also end the "farce" whereby the Immigration Appeals Tribunal is losing track of failed asylum seekers; is refusing those who, despite the best efforts of Reid and his predecessors, still merit sanctuary; is imposing "unacceptable delays" on those awaiting the soothing compassion of our Britishness; and is even seeing other work "sidelined or even deliberately manipulated". Manipulated - and under a New Labour government, no less.

As always, we must remember that things could easily be worse. If the Countess had her way, for example, she would tell the asylum seekers: "you are very welcome if you find yourself a job and accommodation within six weeks, if you keep our laws and don't demand health service treatment immediately, and after so many years you can come into the system - and if you can't do that you get sent back immediately". Thank heaven and John Reid that this wishy-washy wellmeaningism is being reformed into something a bit more enforcing. What our new immigration enforcement personnel will look like has not yet been decided, but I certainly look forward to helping foot the bill for their formidability-positive couture.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Scathing Denunciation

A Foreign Office minister, Kim Howells, has said that he very much hopes the Americans understand what's happening to Lebanon, and has observed that the destruction of the infrastructure and the high Lebanese death toll indicate a certain lack of surgicality. Reporting this, the Observer shrills: "Britain dramatically broke ranks with George Bush last night over the Lebanon crisis, publicly criticising Israel's military tactics". Howells' remarks apparently place Britain "at odds with Washington's strong support".

Of course, support with a bit of weak quibbling from a departmental underling is not quite the same as strong support; but it hardly seems at odds with it. The Vicar of Downing Street himself apparently "voiced deep concern" to Ehud Olmert last week, but was informed that the Righteous State, as the Middle East's sole nuclear power, faced a dire threat from Hizbullah's rockets (in a recent holocaust, sixty-five Hizbullah rockets injured 0.1846154 of an Israeli each) and was determined to do everything necessary to defeat it. As always, this seems to have settled the matter: "Downing Street sources said last night that Blair still believed Israel had every right to respond to the missile threat, and held the Shia militia responsible for provoking the crisis by abducting two Israeli soldiers and firing rockets into Israel."

On the other hand, those same sources "had no quarrel with Howells' scathing denunciation of Israel's military tactics", possibly because Howells neither scathed nor denounced. A scathing denunciation would be something along the lines of: "Israel's attacks on Lebanon and Gaza are illegal, their pretext phoney, their tactics murderous and their policy in general irresponsible to the point of lunacy. The destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children and so many people may not be quite up to what we have achieved in Afghanistan and Iraq, but they're coming damn close." Howells' statement is a quibble; a mild expression of concern at someone's deplorable disregard for public relations. Howells is a New Labour minister; for him to "dramatically break ranks" with George W Bush would be to risk cerebral haemorrhage.

Back in the land of milk and honey, the Righteous Army's chief of staff has explained that Israel's onslaught will be "limited in scope", this time anyway. "We will fight terror wherever it is," he said. This certainly sounds limited. "We will also conduct limited ground operations," he said. How limited? Well, "as much as needed", naturally. The plan is a purely limited, purely restrained sanitary operation: "to clean a strip a mile from our border of Hizbullah bunkers and rocket-launching sites". Once the cleaning has been done, of course, they will leave, in the virtuous assurance that "the UN resolutions requiring [Hizbullah] to be disarmed are finally carried through". Peace will descend, birds will sing, lizards will frolic, and all will be jolly once more.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Murder in Samarkand

A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror

The story recounted in Murder in Samarkand is ably summarised by the author himself in the Lenin interview. It begins with an expression of amazement by a member of the British embassy staff in Uzbekistan. The source of his amazement is the fact that the British ambassador to Uzbekistan has any interest in what might be happening in that part of Uzbekistan which lies outside the gates of his residence. Craig Murray's predecessors, and presumably successors, displayed no such interest.

As Murray discovered to his cost, this was not incompetence or negligence on their part. Uzbekistan, under the dissident-boiling regime of Islam Karimov, was a designated vital ally in the War Against the Abstract Noun and therefore an automatic recipient of the Bush administration's seal of approval as a burgeoning democracy. Accordingly, it was the British ambassador's patriotic duty to sit on his hands, make appropriate noises at social functions, and congratulate the regime on its nonexistent reforms while Karimov's goons raped as many people and pulled out as many fingernails as they dashed well pleased.

Although a promising diplomat with experience in Nigeria, Ghana and Poland, Murray was unpatriotic enough to allow his personal distaste for torture and totalitarianism to get in the way of his professional judgement. The Foreign Office offered him the gentleman's way out: a chance to resign rather than be kicked out on charges so incompetently fabricated they were an insult to the craft of trumping-up. Murray compares it to the good old-fashioned Britishness of being given a revolver and expected to do the decent thing; instead of which "I picked it up and started shooting at the bastards". Truly, our values are not what they once were.

Starting with his witnessing of a dissident "trial", which was largely a platform for the judge to make bad jokes about Muslims before passing sentence, Murray recounts his professional and personal adventures and vicissitudes from his arrival in Tashkent to his formal suspension from duty and resignation from the diplomatic service. It is clear that he made thoroughly unscrupulous use of his ambassadorial status not only to promote British commercial and cultural interests in Uzbekistan, but also to investigate human rights abuses and even, in one instance, to encourage asylum seekers to apply to the United Kingdom for accommodation. It is heartening to report that, for a change, they were turned down quickly enough to spare the taxpayer both the expense of deporting them and the tedium of reading about them in the Daily Mail.

Naturally, the Foreign Office did all it could to rein in Murray's excesses. Their efforts to keep him from making a fool of himself led naturally to the ruin of his health, both physical and mental; and naturally, having nothing to hide, the Government has censored his book, delayed its publication and done its best to suppress the correspondence (released under the Freedom of Information Act) which substantiates Murray's claims. Fortunately, these documents have been mirrored elsewhere, so it is still possible to gain some idea of the Government's honesty, innocence and pristine attachment to principle.

Like many enemies of truth and decency, Murray exerts a certain dangerous charm. Despite the often harrowing subject matter, his book is always readable, never boring and sometimes hilarious. It is probably your patriotic duty not to buy it; and you certainly will not sleep better if you believe it, even though it does include a tip on how best to drink vodka with the KGB. Doubtless this is why the Government has done so much to protect us from it.

Friday, July 21, 2006

News 2020

New technology to enhance victimhood representation

Scientific advances in genetic engineering could soon be co-opted into the war on judicial softitude by enabling victimhood representationalisation to be carried to hitherto unheard-of new levels of fairness and equitability, a new report says.

The report, by the research and development team at Hallibechtel Humans plc, predicts that human cloning will enable victims of crime to be reproduced in sufficient numbers to take "a highly pro-active role" in the trials of suspects while retaining economic viability.

"This is a very exciting development," said Hallibechtel research director Myron Glutz today. "We can even envisualate the possible resurrectification of those whose previous lives have been prematurely insurance-positivised via murderous activity."

Even in ordinary non-fatal jury cases, the developments could make a difference on behalf of the victim, Mr Glutz asserted.

Within a few years it should be possible to produce entire juries, or even entire courts, from a single sample of a victim's genetic structure, and so ensure "beyond reasonable shadow of a doubt" that the interests of victims were seen to out-importantify those of suspects, he said.

Home Office spokesresource Vesta Tulgid said today that the company was to be congratulated for its contribution to justice and fairness in British courts.

She added that Government reforms would aim to facilitate the co-option of new advances into legal procedure by enhancing mutually beneficial linkages between provision agencies and the justice industry.

The company which is contracted to run Britain's courts, Hallibechtel Justice and Human Resource Reclamation plc, issued a statement saying it was "interested".

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Widespread Recognition By Pretty Well Everybody

The Secretary for the Rest of the World (our affairs in Europe having been relegated to exceeding the capacities of Geoff Hoon) has suffered a mild attack of back-bench vertebratism over what the Guardian calls "Israeli military action in the Middle East". The words "attack on Lebanon" have got thorns, apparently.

Margaret Beckett (for it was she) had earlier suffered "the discomfort of standing next to the Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit", who was inconsiderate enough to call for an immediate cease-fire on both sides and to state that any release of hostages by Hizbullah would have to take place in the context of such a cease-fire. Beckett then trotted off to the Commons and accused Hizbullah of a "calculated attempt" to destabilise the whole darned milk-and-honey region, despite having said beforehand that there was common ground between Britain and Egypt. Perhaps she was referring to our mutual memories of the Suez crisis.

Anyway, Beckett informed the newly-backboned ones that Britain had urged the Righteous State to exercise "restraint" and had cautioned it to "take every care" to avoid civilian casualties. Doubtless, were it not for Britain's cautionary urgings, civilian casualties would be even higher than they are now; otherwise I am sure we would be hearing more about the consequences for Israel of failing to bow to the will of the international community.

The international community in this instance consists, according to Beckett, of "everybody", or on second thoughts "pretty well everybody", or those who have succumbed to the "widespread recognition" that the Middle East is being destabilised because of "a wanton act of destruction on the part of Hizbullah". Presumably, we can take such phrases to be working definitions of the "international community" as generally understood these days; namely the governments of Britain, the United States, Israel and a few other legal luminaries like the Dominican Republic.

Beckett further demonstrated the Government's fervent membership of said community by condemning Iran and Syria for their "interference" in backing Hizbullah. Luckily, nobody was boorish enough to drag Iraq into the discussion, or she might have ended up looking a bit of a fool.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Existential Threats

Our Dear Leader in the Perpetual War on the Abstract Noun showed unwonted restraint today in its efforts to prevent further bloodshed in the Middle East. In marked contrast to the flurries of righteous zeal which preceded the 1991 turkey shoot in Iraq and the present Quagmire of Democracy, the Bush administration and its little helper have "blocked efforts for an immediate halt to the fighting initiated at the UN security council, the G8 summit in St Petersburg and the European foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels". Apparently it has been decreed that the New American Century will not be placed at undue risk if the Righteous State continues to kill Lebanese for a period not exceeding one week. Presumably, at the end of that time, sanctions and possible military action against Israel will be considered; or then again, perhaps not. "It's in our interest for Syria to stay out of Lebanon and for this government in Lebanon to succeed and survive," Bush said. We all know how governments in Lebanon have thrived under occupation by the Righteous State, particularly as long as no ceasefires are permitted. Agreeing with Bush, as he sometimes does, the Vicar of Downing Street observed that "Of course we all want violence to stop and stop immediately, but we recognise the only realistic way to achieve such a ceasefire is to address the underlying reasons why this violence has broken out." Underlying reasons addressed so far amount to over two hundred and thirty Lebanese civilians, which is slightly more than seventeen times the number of Israeli civilians killed by Hizbullah since the start of the peacekeeping effort.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Let's Democratise Those Bastards All To Hell

Iran supplies weapons to attack British troops in Basra. Tony says it, so it must be true. "Hizbullah is supported by Iran and Syria, by the former in weapons, weapons incidentally very similar if not identical to those used against British troops in Basra," Tony said. Hizbullah are nasty people. Asked whether Israel had responded proportionately to a couple of raids and some rocket attacks by upping the routine shelling of Gaza into a full-scale peacekeeping mission, bombing the only power station in the place and then launching a tough-love penetration of Lebanon, Tony said that "there are groups who have decided at this moment to take steps which completely disregard the welfare of the Lebanese or the Palestinians down in Gaza." Presumably we are to take that as a yes. Hizbullah are nasty people. Iran and Syria are nasty people. Just imagine what people like that could do if they had nuclear weapons. Indeed, they might already have nuclear weapons. If those people have nuclear weapons, and if they are pointed at us, the consequences could be serious, particularly if they also have appropriate delivery systems. After all, nobody has proved that they don't have them. Iran and Syria might also be dotted if not pocked if not positively perforated with mass graves, waiting in the desert dust for Ann Clwyd's cleansing drool. There's just no way of knowing for sure, but it is always better to be safe than sorry and if we can depose a mad mullah or so along the way, then we shall almost probably be welcomed as liberators and pelted with flowers, just like wheneveritwas in whereveritwas. In any case, it would jolly well serve them right, because Iran supplies weapons to attack British troops. Tony says it, so it must be true.

Sunday, July 16, 2006



One (1) standard mass of undifferentiated Muslimity

One (1) faith school conforming to Government Safety Standard BS/TURR393847563773

One (1) Good Imam

One (1) standard measure of concentrated Britishness


Detach an appropriate quantity of Muslimity and mould to required dimensions. Kosher chefs are advised to use rapid-action Uzi spatula.

Place in faith school and simmer until brown and quaint.

Remove carefully from faith school and place on a nearly level playing field. Utilise Good Imam to settle mixture.

Add Britishness and integrate carefully but thoroughly. If the addition of Britishness results in overheating, stop and search until mixture quietens down.

Serves if properly handled.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

News 2020

BBC apologises for anti-semitism

The BBC has apologised for anti-semitic remarks made by two of its reporters in connection with the Israeli bombardment of Shanghai.

The Israeli ambassador in London warned the Prime Minister that the use of loaded terms instead of the more neutral "self-defensive police action" constituted a dangerous return to the attitudes of Oswald Mosley, William Joyce and Tarka the Otter.

Twenty-three minutes later the BBC retracted the statements by its reporters, Inigo Flexman and Melody Fippett, and said that it apologised "with accustomed unreservedness" to the government and people of Israel, the Jewish people, the victims of the Holocaust and the various television personalities who had expressed their indignation.

The Prime Minister has made no public comment on the affair, except to express concern that Israel should have been forced to risk the lives of its troops in order to prevent further bloodshed by Muslim insurgents.

Although the BBC has not issued any statement on the future of the two so-called journalists, their careers with the organisation are probably hanging on the balance of a knife-edge.

The offending broadcasts have been wiped from the memory of humankind, but Mr Flexman is understood to have referred to "Israeli incursions" over the Israel-India border, while Ms Fippett went so far as to speculate that Israel might contemplate "invading" China if the Chinese government persisted in granting inscrutability to Muslim agents operating inside the country.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Enhanced Safetification Through Simplified Levellisation

As many of you will know, the Government has an unrivalled record on public safety. During this Government, public safety has been made safer than ever before, thanks to the Government's concern for the safety of the public.

One of the Government's most concerning concerns in the matter of public safety is safeguarding the safety of the public from the threat of terror. A small but vicious minority of sub-human perverts and Health Service tourists have seized upon a tissue of fictitious grievances and used them as an excuse to strike at the heart of our values as a nation and our right to go about our daily affairs in peace and safety to the continuing profit of our betters.

Besides its concern for the safety of the public, the Government has been unprecedentedly open in informing the public of whatever information the Government thinks it necessary for the public to have. In the wake of the July bombings last year, a Narrative has been issued which narrates all significant events of that terrible day. Many people have been arrested and some imprisoned or shot. One or two have even been charged.

This shows that the terrorists will never terrorise us out of our fundamental values or our concern for the safety of the public.

In accordance with the Government's concern for public safety and maximality of informationatising, the Government has decided to further ensure the safety of the public by simplifying the information given to the public about the extent of the threat of terror from which the public is being protected twenty-four hours a day by the Government and our brave boys in the security services. The Government has decided to introduce a scale of terror threat levels whereby the public can be informed of the level of terror threat.

There will be five levels of threat on the scale of threat levels. This is because the Government is concerned to make the threat level and the public as simple as possible, and most members of the public have five fingers on which to count. The levels are as follows:

Low: This is the fifth highest level of threat. There is no such thing as a nonexistent threat. A low level of threat means that there is no need to panic as our brave boys in the security services have arrested or shot almost everyone who could possibly wish harm to our values, or our way of life. However, this is not to say that another threat could not arise instantly from a different quarter, with a different set of equally fictitious grievances. Therefore, although a low level of threat is no reason to panic, a small and non-excessive level of unease and/or apprehension is permissible within the boundaries laid down at the discretion of those responsible.

Moderate: This is the fourth highest level of threat. A moderate level of threat means that unease and apprehension may be permitted to exceed the boundaries permitted under the Low threat, although a suitably British level of stoicism and business as usual should at all times be maintained. A moderate level of threat means that our brave boys in the security services are doing all they can, but are nonetheless almost fairly sure that a potential terrorist act of terror may at some point take place.

Substantial: This is the third highest level of threat. A substantial level of threat means that you are entitled to fear for yourself and your loved ones. A substantial level of threat means that our brave boys in the security services are virtually certain that a possible terrorist act of potential terrorist terror may be about to take place at practically any time in the near or further future.

Severe: This is the second highest level of threat. A severe level of threat means that you should think seriously about the state of your family's insurance policies and, if you are on benefits, place all documentation in a safe place to avoid complications and possible legal action should your entitlement change as a result of deaths and/or mutilations to your nearest and dearest. A severe level of threat means that our brave boys in the security services have established that terroristic activity is actively terroristic and, while there is no reason to panic, the severity of the threat should not be underestimated.

Critical: This is the highest level of threat. A critical level of threat means that you should make advance funeral arrangements for anyone you can think of and, if you wear glasses or contact lenses, paint them white for protection against flash burns. While maintaining your natural aspect of little people's courage and unassuming stoicism, you may find it helpful to be eaten up with anxiety inside, as this will confuse the terrorists. A critical level of threat means that our brave boys in the security services have no idea what is going to happen or where, but are sure it will be bloody. While there may be every reason to panic, of course this is not an excuse for aiding the terrorists by screaming or looting or expressing dissatisfaction with the Government's concern over public safety.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

News 2020

PM signals end of a friendship

The Prime Minister today moved to distance himself from his former friend and confidant, Lord Leitfinger, who was arrested last week in connection with the scandal surrounding the Hallibechtel Half-Dozen.

Lord Leitfinger was granted instant and utter bail after twelve minutes of questioning by police officers contracted from Hallibechtel Enforcement plc. Sleep deprivation and other techniques of interrogative assertiveness are not thought to have been found necessary.

The alleged connection between Lord Leitfinger and the hanging of a vital witness in the Hallibechtel Half-Dozen case has not been made clear, but a Downing Street spokesman said that the 60-year-old peer had "shamelessly exploited" the Prime Minister since birth.

The six British investment bankers and part-time military civilian sponsorship executives were extradited to the United States under the Suspects' Homelandwards Aggressive Facilitation Treaty on charges of conspiracy to get caught.

The extraditions caused controversy in the British media because the treaty has not been fully ratified by the Homeland Executive Discussion Forum, apart from a single clause specifying that the Commander-in-Chief's dad can beat up the Prime Minister's dad any time.

In a brief statement today, calculated to distance the Government from his former friend and confidant, the Prime Minister said that Lord Leitfinger had his "utmost friendship and confidence" and that the British police operated under some of the most rigorous contracts in the privately-financed sector of their sector of the public sector.

Lord Leitfinger's legitimate interests include a key role in drawing up nominees for peerages in parliament's upper chamber, and he is thought to have been instrumental in the award of honours such as Arnold Schwarzenegger's Lifetime Achievement BAFTA and Huckleberry Hallibechtel's CBE, MBE and Victoria Cross.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I'm Bigger Than You So Shut Up And Eat That Freedom

Craig Murray has been forced to remove those documents from his website. As one would expect from Tony's Emporium of Choice and Justice, the reason is that "to defend this case would cost the price of a London house", and Freedom of Information doesn't mean, you know, free information. However, Murray also notes that copyright cases apply only to "one instance of publication in one place", and therefore anyone else who has violated Tony's rights in similar fashion need only consider mending their ways once they receive a letter from the Government's lawyers. Also, if anyone happens to have the price of a London house to spare, the Guardian has noted that a "defence of public interest for ... non-commercial disclosures" could well hold up.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Marbrunch and Burzelcrudley

Despite the death of his father Gundelhucket the Squamous in highly convenient and painful circumstances, the ascent of Marbrunch the Disobliging to the throne was not an altogether straightforward process. Sensing perhaps that all was not well in the royal family (at the very least, he could scarcely have been unaware that his wife Miggeltorsion's frequent attacks of inverse conniptions were somewhat more than a product of her admittedly incorrigible quinsy), Gundelhucket had craftily rescheduled the biennial huckstering and thus foreclosed the all-important beetroot harvest until a date to be determined by himself. This of course meant that the Council were legally relegated to a high-fibre limbo until Gundelhucket's decree either was surpassed by a quorum at the chancellery or was delivered to a seated session of the Grand Huggermugger for formal mastication. Naturally Gundelhucket had never intended that either of these contingencies should actually occur, preferring instead to cultivate his in-laws and lay occasional waste to the outskirts of St Albans. Almost before Gundelhucket died, therefore, his consort Miggeltorsion was detained by trusted halbardiers of the local watch, whereupon Marbrunch dispatched a brace of castellans to Hartlepool to safeguard the national gusset. It was owing to this rapid and enervating action that Marbrunch's rivals, Burzelcrudley of Mimms and Marbrunch's own elder brother Mulctincosh the Peevish, found themselves cribbaged at the very bollards despite all their years of plotting. Mulctincosh never recovered either his self-esteem or the pleated toggles which were taken from him as spoils of battle; but Burzelcrudley, a seasoned political veteran, absorbed the blow to his ambitions and went on to become sufficiently trusted to poison Marbrunch's breakfast fifteen years later. Marbrunch escaped death on that occasion, probably thanks to hereditary duodenal fortitude as well as the adulteration for which all foodstuffs, including poisons, were notorious at the time, to the extent that almost no food contained more than thirty per cent of itself, and some contained so much of other substances that, as with beetroot, the names have become permanently transposed. Suspecting foul play, Marbrunch sent Burzelcrudley on a diplomatic mission among the tribesmen of the Grampian Snifter, from which he was shrewd enough not to return until Marbrunch's own demise, twenty-seven years later, from complications resulting from an aspirated budgerigar.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Friendly Fire

When he was twenty-five, David Bradley saw four of his colleagues killed by an American aircraft. It was all in the cause of freedom, of course, and not being a paedophile, a drug addict, an asylum seeker or a single mother he should have been able to put it all behind him. Unfortunately, six years later he was still having "nightmares, cold sweats and other problems", according to the chairman of the Gulf Veterans Association in Newcastle upon Tyne, who was in touch with Bradley between 1997 and 1999. Apparently Bradley felt "as if he had been used and abused by the armed services and then just dumped", a rather odd way to feel considering the praise which is lavished almost daily on our brave servicepersons by the Prime Minister and other brave souls in the Government and even in the Daily Mail. Bradley, according to the Guardian "is believed to have served with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, which suffered the worst casualties in the Gulf war of 1991"; it seems that Iraqi casualties were even less worth counting in 1991 than they are now.

So, it seems, Bradley shot dead four relatives, two of them in their seventies, who apparently raised him as one of the family and with whom he had lived. Then he walked into a police station. One hopes the Daily Mail, which seems to have leeched onto the story, will be more restrained than usual in its inevitable calls for Bradley to be locked up, strung up, deported, castrated, slapped on the wrist or whatever extra-legal measures they see as correct in this case. Since Bradley is not a paedophile, a drug addict, an asylum seeker or a single mother, what he did was obviously a cry for help.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


The Blorg is a creature who loves girls and boys;
For he turns their toe-bones into exquisite toys.
When he catches a child, the Blorg strips off the skin,
Which he uses for bags to keep testicles in.
If the child is a boy, he then rips off the feet,
And then mops up the blood, for his habits are neat.
Half-clotted, the blood makes a sort of pink paste,
Which the Blorg makes quite certain will not go to waste;
For he spreads it on bread made from flour ground from ribs,
From a recipe written with finger-bone nibs.
It's a fact that the Blorg has a fine fertile mind,
And his toys made from toes are the best of their kind.
Yes, the Blorg knows his business and has many skills,
And will use every bit of each child that he kills.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

News 2020

Home Secretary defends literary legacy

The Home Secretary last night hit back at critics of the Government's programme to protect Britain's literary heritage, and has issued a "refutation of full and absolute categoricality" of claims of censorship.

The Government's policy of "conservation through combustion" would continue, he said in a speech peppered with quotations from Shakespeare, John F Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Rupert Murdoch.

"The idea that the Government's policy constitutes some sort of neo-Nazi act of book-burning is a pernicious and deeply dishonest misconception," the Home Secretary said.

"This is simply a necessary modernising process of liberating the combustibility potential of certain items of printed matter so that Britain's unparalleled literary legacy can continue to unparallel into the next century and beyond."

He was speaking at a literary conservation rally outside the British Library, where several thousand volumes, none of them copies of the Koran, were being subjected to incendiary rationalisation.

The running of the British Library has been contracted out to the US-owned conglomerate Consolidated Righteousness in Adult Perusal, a move seen by some as anti-Muslim.

Anonymous sources at several illegal jihadist organisations vowed to "destroy fifty works of secular filth for every Muslim volume burned by the puppets of Zionism." No moderate Muslims were available for comment.

However, the Home Secretary said that Britain's moderate Muslim population was "deeply and correctly grateful" to be living in a society whose values had done so much to improve Muslim culture both at home and abroad.

Culture and Heritage Secretary Victoria Beckham was also scheduled to be present, but was unable to attend the event due to her emergency septum transplant last week.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Craig Murray

Craig Murray, whose book Murder in Samarkand has finally been published (and has been compared by film director Michael Winterbottom to "a very funny version of a Graham Greene novel") has now been instructed by lawyers acting for the Government to remove from his website various documents which support his story. The documents were released under the Freedom of Information Act, but the Government claims that they remain Crown Copyright, and therefore are not for viewing by just anybody. I certainly would not recommend your going here and having a look for yourself; much less downloading the documents for dissemination should the Government prove successful in getting them removed from Murray's website.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Roger P Cremaster, Gay Abortionist

Of all the superheroes to grace the pages of comics half a century ago, few were greeted with such enthusiasm, and still fewer consigned to such subsequent neglect, as handsome, wise-cracking "freelance gynaecologist" Roger P Cremaster.

Unlike many comic-strip creations, who were criticized for violence or other conduct unbecoming to American youth, Cremaster at the height of his fame was praised by Vice-President Lyndon Johnson as "a truly positive role model for boys" and by the American Medical Association as "a major contribution to the cause of medical humanitarianism". Even in 1954, when Cremaster had been appearing regularly for only eighteen months, a junior senator named Joseph R McCarthy praised the strip for its "upright, deep-down Americanism", while in the United Kingdom Harold Macmillan said in 1959 that Toolbox, the publication in which Cremaster appeared, was the only American comic he would happily permit his servants to read.

In fact, for over twenty years, from 1952 until the calamitous aftermath of Roe v Wade, Cremaster was the mainstay of Toolbox, the original title of which had been The Young American's Toolbox of Usefulness and Fun. Issue 159, in which Cremaster makes his first appearance in a one-panel joke featuring what was to become one of his main catch-phrases ("No need for the cloakroom, I've brought my own coathanger"), is now a valued collector's item, and copies have been known to fetch five-figure sums, and cause fights resulting in concussions, broken bones and jail sentences, at auction. Roger would probably not be displeased.

After his first appearance in Toolbox, it took nearly eight more months before the comic's editor, Baddeley Mulbright, realised the new strip's potential. The main attraction of Toolbox at the time was Sergeant Gurliman, a US Marine drill instructor noted for showing his vulnerable, sympathetic side too soon for the good of his recruits, who when faced with genuine war conditions usually ended up "fragging" their officers or committing suicide in the face of the enemy. Gurliman was the creation of Hudibras J Peabody, who famously persuaded Mulbright to give Cremaster his head by allowing the author, Carlton Pinkley, to develop the character in a full-page story. This, of course, was the famous "Lady in a Jam". Although the basics of Cremaster's character, including the flowing locks and the firm yet compassionate cupid's bow lips, are already in place, the story is fairly routine and lacks the finer inventive touches which would characterise the strip in its prime. Also, the hero was billed as "Roger Cremaster, Gay Gynaecologist", over the objections of both Pinkley and Peabody, on the grounds that the term "Abortionist" would have given away the story's ending and spoiled the suspense.

The next few stories, in all of which Cremaster operated under his "gynaecologist" rubric, worked variations on the same theme, with "Girl in a Mess", "A Bundle of Trouble" and "Ready to Drop" perhaps the most memorable examples. The last of these titles is noted for the appearance of Cremaster's notorious catch-phrase, "No chemicals, sweetie, just suction", quotation of which was to cause unwonted hilarity in sober civics classes for many months to come. In fact, an up-and-coming politician named Lyndon Johnson was so taken with the line that ten years later he planned to use it in a speech about the dangers of a "quagmire" in Vietnam, and was prevented from doing so only by fears of a liberal backlash.

In any event, writer-illustrator Carlton Pinkley had larger ambitions for his creation, and he soon grew bored with the formulaic storylines requested by Mulbright. Generally, a teenage girl (or, less often, a society belle) would request Cremaster to "get her out of a jam", which task the good doctor would accomplish with panache in the final panels. Sympathetic boyfriends would be given affectionate advice, while heels and no-goods could expect to be tied face-down to a gurney and forcibly penetrated from behind, usually to the accompaniment of an edifying lecture on urology and puns of the calibre of "no engagement ring for her - that's a busted sphincter-ring for you".

Despite Mulbright's misgivings, Pinkley began creating stories in which the climax did not necessarily involve terminating a pregnancy. More and more often, plots were structured around the difficulties Cremaster had to overcome in order to perform his duties, so that instead of ending with a surgical operation a strip would conclude with the blackmail or castration of some interfering authority figure. Other stories dwelt on the practical problems of finding the proper equipment while continually on the run from a government which accused him of murder; on at least three occasions Roger was forced to relieve a rape victim's agonies armed only with a vacuum cleaner and the utensils in her grandmother's kitchen.

Although Marvel and DC Comics' science-fiction superheroes attained great popularity during this time, Pinkley was never enthusiastic about endowing Roger P Cremaster with fantastic powers. The Gay Abortionist relied solely on his surgical skills and bitchy wit to get himself out of trouble while saving the world from overpopulation. A half-hearted attempt was made to give Cremaster a mild-mannered public persona after the fashion of Superman's Clark Kent or Batman's Bruce Wayne; but in Roger's case it was merely an ordinary, legal medical practice, which he operated under his own name and a crew-cut wig to disguise his unfashionably luxuriant hair. His nurse, Canulla fforbes-fforceps, an English heiress who had fallen on hard times, knew Roger's secret and occasionally assisted him on his adventures; but Pinkley made no secret of his belief that "pretty young sidekicks and crypto-heterosexual banter" were strictly the stuff of Batman and Robin.

Cremaster's own popularity continued unabated through the sixties, with the stories becoming ever more spectacular in the wake of the James Bond phenomenon and the indulgence of new editor Bunty Spurlock. Although Roger performed abortions in a number of exotic locations (including a zero-gravity space station, with results messy enough to get Toolbox's Parental Relations switchboard jammed with complaints for ten solid hours) on the girlfriends of various flamboyant enemies of humanity (often ending with the homily, "Remember, girls and boys - unwanted children make crazy adults!"), Pinkley's creative juices were showing signs of inhibited discharge. He relied increasingly on in-jokes like Roger's persistent misconception that DC Comics had something to do with "dilation and curettage performed in a ticklish fashion" or the inclusion of well-known but unpopular personalities of the day as "avoidable errors in contraception". Although Pinkley blamed Roe v Wade to the end of his days for Cremaster's demise, the truth is that the Gay Abortionist had long since shot his bolt.

Nevertheless, he went out in style, excoriating the judges for taking the challenge out of abortion and for "reducing me to just one more fallopian footler". The final frames of the February 1973 issue of Toolbox see Roger setting sail for "parts unknown, where certain parts are still forbidden territory", and incidentally performing his first and only legal abortion aboard ship, much to his own disgust. Carlton Pinkley died in 1978, reputedly from an exploding pancreas at the premiére of Superman The Movie, still trying to persuade various publishers large and small to help him resurrect Roger Cremaster.

Film rights to the character were sold as early as the mid-fifties, but projects for a Gay Abortionist movie never got beyond the script stage. In part, this was due to the impracticality under the Production Code of showing an abortionist at work; among other objections, it was noted at a preliminary meeting at MGM in 1961, neither contemporary special effects nor cinematography in black and white or Technicolor could hope to convey "a true feeling for the subject at hand". Nevertheless, the influence of the Cremaster stories is palpable in such diverse works as Zorro, Pulp Fiction, TV series such as Casualty and EastEnders, and even, deeply subtextually, The Lord of the Rings. It is to be hoped that modern movie technology will one day afford a new generation the opportunity to acquaint itself with the exploits of Roger Cremaster. He is a role model whose time has come anew.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

News 2020

Terror crisis looms for health customers

A new crisis is looming in the lower-income tranches of the NHS industry owing to lack of public awareness on terrorism, a think-tank has warned.

The Policy Research and Integration Group, a charitable foundation founded by Lord Blair of Belmarsh under his own "charities for profit" charity reforms after his historic third term as Prime Minister, warns that the risk of injury to members of the public through terrorist action may plunge the health industry into new difficulties.

"People tend to go through life thinking it'll never happen to them," said PRIG human resource Felicity Silkience. "Even members of high-risk groups, such as those who habitually sit next to Muslims on public transport without checking the ImamNet database first, often have no idea of the potential strain they might one day be putting on the limited resources of the health industry."

Junior health minister Dabney Snelgrove said that the Government would be "looking very carefully" at further new ways to improve public awareness about the terrorism threat.

"It is possible that the Government could do more, apart from the present campaigns on radio, television, street advertising, the internet and the Goodyear blimp, to help informationise the public towards the requisite degree of vigilance," said Mr Snelgrove from the independent pro-life hospital he was opening in Dagenham.

Billed by its US owners as "the abortive alternative", the hospital offers "moral healthcare and chastity advice", but has only a single 200-bed wing devoted to terrorist-inflicted injuries.

Also, most of the "terror beds" are "sponsor-prioritised", which means that health industry customers who do not have appropriate insurance schemes could result in unnecessarily unfavourable casualty figures for future terrorist acts of terror.

The leader of the opposition, Boris Johnson, responded to the PRIG findings by unveiling the NuLibCon Alliance's new Open Arms policy of distributing artificial limbs to suspected potential terrorist victims in advance of suspected potential terrorist terrorism.

Mr Johnson said the Open Arms scheme would be "a key plank along which the future of British health will walk into a stable and sustainable future". The costs of the scheme would be paid by efficientiating more probation officers into prison warders, he said.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Put That in your Pipe

Ofwat, Britain's charmingly named regulator to the water profiteering business, has exercised more good sense than I should have given it credit for in punishing Thames Water. Thames, which is owned by a German multinational in the name of British efficiency, imposed a hosepipe ban in April, has asked for a drought order for later, and made record profits this year.

The company has also shown a truly Blairite instinct for holier-than-thou salesmanship by lecturing its captive market on water efficiency. "It's important that we do not take this precious resource for granted and that we all use water wisely to ensure that there is enough for everyone in years to come," the website informs us, before continuing schoolmarmishly: "Water saving habits started now will become a way of life for the future." A drip in time saves nine, you see, children. Top tips include: "When buying a new dishwasher, choose one that is energy efficient as this saves water and electricity." Customers who wouldn't think to check are helpfully informed that "Machines with an 'A' rating sign are the most economical". We are also advised to fix leaking taps, to turn taps off when brushing teeth, and to fit "a bag of harmless crystals" in the toilet cistern. I seem to recall reading that a house brick wrapped in plastic will do the same job, but a house brick probably would not rejoice in the catchy name of Save-a-flush. Those who find that their toilet does not flush properly with a Save-a-flush in the cistern are advised to "please remove your Save-a-flush".

Oh, and I forgot to mention: Thames Water plans to raise prices yet further, and is wasting eight hundred and seventy-four million litres every day because of leaky pipes. The regulator could have imposed a fine, but the maximum would have been seventy million and the money would have gone to the Treasury for Gordon Brown to spend on a war or the Private Finance Initiative. Instead, Ofwat have imposed a "legally binding undertaking" on Thames Water to do more repairs to the pipes than it had planned, and to do them at the expense of the shareholders. It will only cost them double the maximum fine, which is a shame; but on the whole this appears such an eminently sensible judgement that it can only be a matter of time before Tony Blair or the Home Office overturns it.

Monday, July 03, 2006

An Answer to a Poll

Yes, I am interested in history. I am very interested in history. History is my main serious interest and I give it a bit of thought whenever I have the time. I think that Boris Johnson and Tony Blair are absolutely and utterly right. History is a wonderful thing. History definitely matters and we should definitely pass it on. We can learn important lessons from history. If we had not learned from history we might have got into a mess in Afghanistan. Without history Britain would not have a heritage and that would be, like, not very British. Heritage and history is, like, what distinguishes Britishness from foreigners. I did history at school and heard about a lot of battles what we won, Francis Drake and Winston Churchill and the Falklands, like. I am in agreement with Gordon Brown that we should stop apologising for winning so much in the past and just get on with being proud of ourselves. If it were not for us the Australians would still be living like aborigines and the Kenyans would not have proper fridges. Also, the Americans would all be speaking Japanese thanks to our plucky little chindits in Singapore. Today is the ninetieth anniversary of the Somme, which was a battle what we won by being plucky and seeing the job through. The Somme was a battle what took place in World War One, which was started by the Germans and won by us. Then there was appeasement and then the Germans started another one, what we won too, then there was the World Cup and we beat them again in 1966 and got the trifecta huh huh huh. What? Benn, then, Tony Benn. Dead fucking right, anyway. Hello?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

That Old Rat Magic

A Tale

Delbert, the Verminator, Schwarzenegger of rodenticide, knocked grimly at Mr Ferridge's door and trusted to heaven that the old fool was out. He cast a reproachful glance skywards as the old fool's face loomed up in the filth-befogged window.

The door opened. "Morning, Mr Ferridge," Delbert smarmed. "So sorry you weren't satisfied with last week's work. I've come for another crack."
"Oh, yerse," said Mr Ferridge. "The rat-catcher."
Delbert winced. "Please, Mr Ferridge: the Residential Sanitation Officer." He did not add "fourth class"; he was tired of explaining that this denoted administrative rank rather than quality of service.
"Same thing, innit?" demanded Mr Ferridge. "Still the bloody Pied Piper of Hackney, entcher?"
"I'll make a pie of your windpipe in a minute, spud-features," Delbert was careful not to reply. Mr Ferridge jerked his head in a follow-me gesture and shuffled into the dank recesses of his home. He really did bear a remarkable resemblance to a potato, freshly peeled and slightly rubbery with mould. His ears and nostrils were clustered with white rootlike hairs, and his house smelled like a compost heap.

"What's the problem then, Mr Ferridge?" asked Delbert, circumnavigating a carnivorous-looking stain on the doormat.
"Can't you tell?" Mr Ferridge snapped. "The house smells like a bloody compost heap!"
"I, um, I'm not sure I quite - "
"You told me the rats was bringing dirt into the house," Mr Ferridge said patiently. "You said you'd clear out the rats. But the dirt's still here, innit?" It certainly was, and Mr Ferridge concluded with inexorable logic: "So you can't have cleared out the rats, can you?"
"Um," said Delbert, noncommittally. He had been rather touched, the previous week, by the rats' evident eagerness for the release his poisons offered; renewed acquaintance with Mr Ferridge helped him appreciate their point of view.

He particularly remembered one great grey creature, an obvious godfather, which had twitched its nose at him disdainfully while gulping down pellets. After swallowing enough to kill itself in triplicate and to spare, the rat had bolted and, defying Delbert's best efforts to find it and add it to the sixteen corpses stiffening in his self-sealing polyethylene pouches, completely disappeared. It might, he supposed, have been immune, though its fellows had succumbed easily enough.

"Have you actually seen any rats this week, Mr Ferridge?"
"Naaah," growled Mr Ferridge. "Cagier now, ent they?"
Delbert sighed. "Well, let's have a look."
Delbert looked over the house. Mr Ferridge looked over Delbert's shoulder and wheezed rhythmically into his ear. Delbert wondered how the rats had put up with it as long as they had.

The strange thing was beneath the kitchen sink, secluded in the cobwebby shadow of the U-bend. A circle the width of Delbert's hand had been cleared in the dust on the floor; inside it were five yellowish triangles, arranged equidistantly in a star. "What's that?" asked Delbert, withdrawing his head to make room for Mr Ferridge's.
"Looks like cheese," Mr Ferridge replied.
Delbert looked again. It was true; the triangles were five bits of cheese, each carefully nibbled to precisely the dimensions required. "I meant," said Delbert, "why's it in a pattern that way?"
"It's a whatchamacallit," Mr Ferridge explained.
Delbert was not enlightened.
"A pentickle," elaborated Mr Ferridge.
"Well, what's it doing down there?"
"Up to no good, I'll be bound," said Mr Ferridge. "Nothing to do with rats is ever up to any good. I found a dead one down there the other day, before I called you in."

Delbert didn't care. He reached out to sweep the bits of cheese away, and by the time he heard Mr Ferridge's next words, "Its friends had ripped its heart out; like a sacrifice it was," his fingers were inside the pentacle. The grey godfather rat emerged instantly through the solid kitchen wall, glowing with sinister phosphorescence, and vanished in a single bound down Delbert's astonished throat.

"I should watch out, if I was you," said Mr Ferridge. Delbert came out and sat on the floor, looking inquisitively around. Mr Ferridge sighed his resignation and reached for the telephone.

"Hello, Pest Control? Yerse, I've got a rodent problem. Quite a big one, yerse." He glanced over to where Delbert now sat on his haunches, nibbling the cheese from the pentacle and haughtily twitching his nose.

"Quite a big one, yerse," repeated Mr Ferridge.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

News 2020

Playhill to film dictated book

Veteran film-maker Lucas Playhill has announced plans to make a film version of a novel by notorious Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The 74-year-old director of hard-hitting classics such as The Terminal says his next project will be a film of Zabibah and the King, or "Zabibah wal Malik" as Arabs refer to it.

The book tells the story of a beautiful heroine who runs out on her cruel husband and becomes the confidante of a powerful king.

"I was attracted to the book because of its huge cinematic potential," Mr Playhill said yesterday. "It really does have everything you look for in a movie - excitement, tragedy, emotion, spectacle. And the characters, too - this is real archetypal stuff here."

Mr Playhill said he was not concerned about accusations of glorifying the Saddam regime. "The history of literature is full of great writers who held political views I wouldn't necessarily agree with," he said.

"But when you make a movie you generally just ignore history and stuff and concentrate on the universal values."

The ruthless dictator, who was notorious for his ruthless dictatorship, ruled Iraq with an iron hand until the country was democratised in 2003.

He wrote several romantic novels, including Zabibah and the King, which were best-sellers in Iraq before the cultural life of the country was improved by the introduction of western values and the opportunification of Iraqis to read the works of Ann Coulter and Dan Brown.